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Soldering niobium

I just would like to say how much I appreciate this forum. I have
learned so much and felt such a camaraderie that I miss since I quit
teaching a few years ago. Thanks to all of the people who have
responded to questions in the past. And now my current question. :slight_smile:
Does anyone know anything about soldering niobium wire? Can it be
soldered to silver or gold and if so do you need to use a real low
temperature solder? Will it affect the color of the metal, and can it
be pickled? Thanks in advance. Sincerely,

Poppy Vincent

I took a class using reactive metals and we were told that you cannot
solder them. We used cold connectioons or set the reactive metal in
a piece made of something else. Heat des affect the color. --Vicki Embrey

Poppy, I recently wrote an article on niobium that was published in
the Sept. 2001 issue of Lapidary Journal that you might find
interesting. It features the work of a number of artists who use
niobium, plus a little bit of description about working with it.
That issue also includes John Flynn’s Step by Step article describing
the process for making a pair of niobium earrings, including fusion
welding the posts.

The short answer to your question is that you can’t solder niobium
wire. If I understand the problem correctly, the niobium forms oxides
when heated, which prevents a good solder bond. (Bill Seeley or
someone else more knowledgable than me may want to jump in here!)
That oxides are also what gives niobium its color, so yes, heating it
will affect the color of the metal – Rick Hamilton intentionally
heats niobuim to get a dark charcoal to black color, for example.

Hope that helps!
Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (520) 563-8255